University of the Free State: UFS collaborates with Texas Tech University in student outreach programme

A group of ten students from the Texas Tech University (TTU) recently visited the University of the Free State (UFS) as part of a study abroad programme.

The students, who are studying towards becoming dietitians, physicians, physician assistants, and health coaches, had the opportunity to visit the Sensory Laboratory and the Paradys Experimental Farm in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, as well as the Simulation Laboratory and a community nutrition project in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Besides the practical experience, the students also attended classes in Community Nutrition and Emerging Issues in Food Science and Nutrition in support of their studies at TTU.

“The visit and collaboration with Texas Tech University gives our students and staff exposure to future research opportunities, due to mutual areas of interest identified during the visit,” says Prof Johan van Niekerk, Head of the Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development.

Appreciating different ways of life
Both Drs Allison Childress and Wilna Oldewage-Theron, Assistant Professor and Professor in the TTU Department of Nutritional Sciences, respectively, believe the opportunity to study abroad is an important part of a student’s academic career. They say, “It is a great benefit to them, both academically and professionally. Study abroad allows our students to build their résumé, demonstrate adaptability, enhance critical thinking and time management skills, and increase problem-solving capabilities. On a personal level, students also benefit by growing self-awareness, learning to communicate proficiently and comfortably in a global setting, discovering and appreciating other cultures, and respecting new perspectives and ways of life.”

Dr Oldewage-Theron is also a Research Associate in the UFS Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development.

They say this international outreach programme is the result of TTU’s mission and vision to enhance the global reputation of the university by integrating international education, research, and engagement on global issues, and by facilitating intercultural understanding for students, staff, and the greater community.

“The study abroad programme at the UFS aligns with the mission and goals of Texas Tech University, and I am looking forward to collaborating with the university to bring students from South Africa to TTU,” states Dr Childress.

Director of the UFS Office for International Affairs, Dr Cornelius Hagenmeier, is excited about opportunities such as these that can provide UFS students with an international experience. He says: “Hosting this study abroad programme contributes to comprehensive internationalisation at the UFS. It allows UFS students and academics to interact with their TTU counterparts, thus providing them an opportunity to gain international experience on their home campus without leaving the UFS”.